Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

1 Chronicles 23

Verse 1

1 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 23

David maketh Solomon king, 1 Chronicles 23:1. The number and distribution of the Levites, according to their families, 1 Chronicles 23:2-23. Their office, 1 Chronicles 23:24-32.

Not that he did resign the kingdom to him, but that he declared his mind concerning his succession into the throne after his death. As David himself is called king, 1 Samuel 16:1, because he was appointed and anointed to be king after Saul’s death, though till then he was only a subject.

Verse 2

Partly to declare God’s mind and his own will, that Solomon should be his successor; and so to cut off the claims and pretences which others of his sons might make to the crown; and partly to acquaint them with those directions which he had received from God by the Spirit, as appears from 1 Chronicles 28:11, &c., concerning the establishment of a new order and method in the ministration of the priests and Levites in the temple.

Verse 3

From the age of thirty years and upward; not only till fifty, as it was appointed, Numbers 4:2,3, but even till their death; for that was but a temporary law grounded upon a special reason, because the Levites were employed in carrying the tabernacle and sacred vessels from place to place; and therefore God would have them freed from those burdens when they came to feel the infirmities of age; which reason wholly ceasing upon the building of the temple, and their work being far easier than it had been, and their service being more a privilege than a burden, their time of service is justly and fitly prolonged.

Verse 4

To set forward the work of the house of the Lord, i.e. to take care that all the work of the temple about sacrifices and other parts or means of God’s service should be punctually and diligently performed, either by themselves or others; which they were not to do all at once, but by courses, a thousand at a time, as we shall shortly see.

Officers and judges; whose work it seems to have been to judge of and determine all difficult causes or differences which might arise, either among the inferior priests or Levites about their sacred administrations, or among the people, which being governed in all their concerns only by the laws of Moses, it was fit and necessary that the priests and Levites should be consulted and concerned in their matters.

Verse 5

Porters; whose office was to take the charge of all the gates of the temple and its courts, that no forbidden or unclean person might enter there, and of the courts them selves, and of several chambers or buildings belonging to the temple and the service thereof: these also were to do their work by turns.

Four thousand praised the Lord with instruments; whereof two hundred and eighty-eight were persons of greater skill than their brethren, and did instruct them, and had some authority over them.

Verse 6

David divided them into courses; which he did not by his own invention, but as a man of God, and by the command of God, and with the advice and concurrence of Gad and Nathan the prophets, as is manifest from 2 Chronicles 8:14 29:25.

Verse 8

The sons of Laadan, i.e. his posterity; and so in the following verses; for these could not be their immediate sons.

Verse 10

The sons of Shimei; not that Shimei named 1 Chronicles 23:9, but another, and possibly the son or grandson of that Shimei.

Verse 11

They were reckoned together as one family, and were not called by the name of their two immediate parents, but by the name of their grandfather Shimei.

Verse 13

That he should sanctify the most holy things; not positively, for so he could not sanctify them, they being already sanctified by God in the highest degree; but negatively, i.e. that he might keep them from pollution; for these most holy things were polluted when they were touched by any other persons.

He and his sons; not only his eldest sons, the high priests successively, but all his posterity, or all the priests; for the works here following were not peculiar to the high priest, but common to all the priests, who might all

burn incense, 2 Chronicles 29:11 Luke 1:9, and to

minister in the temple, and to bless the people in God’s name, Numbers 6:23 Deuteronomy 10:8.

Verse 14

i.e. They were accounted only as common Levites, and were not priests; which is mentioned partly to secure the priesthood within the bounds to which God had confined it, lest they should presume to invade it upon a confidence in the nobleness of their extraction; and partly for the honour of Moses, and the demonstration of his eminent piety and self-denial, who willingly left the government to Joshua, and the priesthood to Aaron, and was content to have his posterity reduced to a very private and mean condition.

Verse 17

The sons of Eliezer, for the son; the plural number for the singular, as Genesis 46:23 1 Chronicles 2:8,31, and oft elsewhere.

Rehabiah the chief, Heb. the first-born. He is so called, not because others were born after him, but because none were born before him. See Poole "Matthew 1:25".

Verse 24

As the Levites were anciently numbered from two several times, from the twenty-fifth year of their age, and from the thirtieth, Numbers 4:3 8:24; in like manner and for the same reasons they are here numbered both from their twentieth year, as here, when they were more solemnly prepared for and instructed, and by degrees exercised, in some parts of their work; and from their thirtieth year, above, 1 Chronicles 23:3, when they were admitted to the full and complete exercise of all the parts and works of their office. And the reason why they were now sooner admitted to service than they had been formerly by the constitution of Moses, is given in the next verses, because now their work was made easy, they being wholly discharged from that burdensome work of carrying the tabernacle and its utensils, which was too heavy for young and tender shoulders. To which may be added, that the number of the Israelites was greatly increased, and consequently the services which were to be performed by the Levites on their behalf were multiplied, and the work of the temple was much greater than that of the tabernacle, and therefore more of the Levites were to be employed, and consequently they were to be sooner taken into service.

Verse 26

Also unto the Levites; or rather, as concerning the Levites, of whom he is here speaking.

Verse 27

By the last words of David; by his last order and constitution, made by God’s direction and by the Spirit, as hath been once and again noted and proved before. This is here added, to signify that this great affair was thus settled by David, not in his younger years, when it might have been thought to be the effect of youthful heat, and confidence, and presumption, and rashness; but when he was come to the greatest maturity, when he was old and near his death, and going to give up his account to his Lord and Maker of all his actions, and particularly of the alterations which he made in the service of God; which he declared was done by the Spirit of God. These were in a manner his dying words, which usually make the deepest impressions.

Verse 28

All holy things, i.e. holy places, and garments, and vessels, and sacrifices, which were to be washed and cleansed from any filthiness which possibly might cleave to them.

Verse 29

This is to be understood either,

1. Particularly of the measure or quantity of fine flour, and wine, and oil, which was fixed by God’s law. Or

2. Generally of all measures, used either in sacred or civil things, the public standards whereof were kept in the sanctuary or temple; of which see on Exodus 30:13; and therefore the care of keeping them inviolable, and producing them upon occasion, must needs belong to the priests, and under them to the Levites, who were to examine other measures and all things by them, as oft as occasion required, that so the priests might be at more leisure for their higher and greater employments.

Verse 30

The two solemn times of offering sacrifices; which work was attended with public prayer and thanksgiving.

Verse 31

Commanded unto them, i.e. unto those persons, the Levites, of whom he speaks. Or, concerning them, i.e. about those things.

Verse 32

The charge of the sons of Aaron, i.e. what the priests should commit to their charge, or command them to do.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/1-chronicles-23.html. 1685.